Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The embracement of softcore

If you were to judge the title of this alone, you'd probably be expecting some Skinemax Red Shoe diary type shit, where you get to see some boobs through the steamy shower scene, but ultimately leaves you feeling very unfulfilled.

No, what I am talking about in regards to embracing the softcore here is a trend I consistently see throughout the strength and physique industry.

I'm going to do my best not to paint with broad strokes here, or make overall generalizations, but it may happen.  If it does, then it does.

The past few days there has been a bit of a debate going on about a post a bikini competitor (yes, we're already talking about bikini competitors so you know this is going places) saying, literally, "it doesn't matter if you fill your calories with 10 oreos or 5 gallons of broccoli" (so long as it "fits your macros"), and that basically you can get into contest condition doing this shit.

I'm not naming said competitor because I personally don't want to give her any more ridiculous pub she's gotten from writing such nonsense.  What I want to address are two things I see, that have become a big trend in the "fitness industry".

1.  Dumb shit like "it doesn't matter if your calories come from oreos or long as it fits your macros."

I'm not sure where to start with how stupid this is.  And I don't care what some PhD loudmouth or supposed nutrition "expert" has to say about that.  The last time I checked, no one needed a fucking PhD to know that oreos and broccoli aren't the same even if you somehow lined the god damn macros line up.

Before the IIFYM crowd starts flexing their massive 13" biceps in anger, let's get this out of the way.  Flexible dieting or IIFYM can work for some people.  But let's also get another thing straight.  It works for people who know their body really well, knows how to properly manipulate their macros, and has a very good handle on how their body responds to certain foods.

In other words, if you aren't in possession of this skillset, it's fucking not for you.  Sort of like how if you're a noob, you don't need cable crossovers for your bird chest.  You might want to simply learn the basics first, and get some weight on the bar.

If you're a casual Sunday driver, you don't get into a formula 1 car because "IF IT FITS YOUR DRIVING" nerds tell you "all driving is the same because there's a steering wheel and a gas pedal."

Just stop.

Second, it may not be for you anyway.  Not everyone can be flexible in their dieting and lose bodyfat, get lean, or get into contest condition.  This isn't conjecture.  It's fact.  I'm aware of lots of people who have to be strict pretty much year around just to stay in the range of "athletic bodyfat percentage".  They have very small margins for error.  And I know some people who have much larger margins for error to maintain such shape.

If you're naturally lean, and have some raging metabolism, and you're a bikini competitor that needs to lose a whopping 9 pounds to get in stage shape?  Yeah, this shit may be right up your alley come competition time.   But it isn't a good idea tossing out such ridiculous misinformation that oreos and broccoli are some kind of fucking equal food source.  Let's just completely ignore things like the hormonal and inflammation response of foods all together because you know, all foods are equal simple based on "macros".

It's just all about macros, bro.

I know every time I've ever opened up an IFBB pros food "case" it's just a mix of Pringles and tilapia and bloomin onions from Outback Steakhouse.  Because it doesn't matter if you get your carbs from Pringles or sweet potatoes.  It's all the fucking same once it enters your body.

"You're an idiot because you don't understand flexible dieting."

No, I understand it just fine.  It all comes back to the basic principle of thermodynamics and portion control.  If you want to lose fat, you need an energy deficit.  So we're all on board with that very simple concept. It's also about not limiting your food sources and allowing yourself to have things like ice cream and cake in certain quantities IF "they fit your macros".  However there are still issues with this concept whether you like it or not.

Pretending your food sources don't matter or that all macro food sources are equal as a valid concept is mind blowing to me.

Fructose.  A carb.  Doesn't cause the pancreas to secrete insulin.  Gets stored as liver glycogen.

Glucose.  A carb.  Causes the pancreas to secrete insulin.  Gets stored as muscle glycogen.

Seeing how insulin is the most powerful hormone in the body, I think it's safe to say not all food sources, even of equal macro value, don't have the same effect on the body.

And despite the fact that I've addressed this before, fuck it, let's science this bitch out for one second.

But oreos and broccoli are the fucking same!

Fuck it, we'll follow that up with a meme........

You can save all of your links and studies and everything else that points to (cue uber white guy voice) "similar body composition changes despite different food sources with the same energy deficit."

I don't care about the 12 fat people who don't lift weights that were involved in a study where one group ate brussel sprouts for 12 weeks and the other group ate gummy bears but lost the same amount of weight because the calories were the same.

We have already addressed that.

If you're in an energy deficit, you'll lose weight.  If you're in a surplus, you'll gain weight.  The problem is, there are so many other factors in regards to what those gains and losses look like based on other factors that it doesn't become that god damn simple anymore.

Did they lose muscle mass or gain muscle mass?

Were they doing cardio, or lifting weights?

How were the macros spread out?

If it was a study done on "well trained" individuals, how advanced were they?

How hard were they training during this time?

So I don't give a shit about those studies.  At all.  The same way I really don't care about the studies that involved noobs doing 3 sets of leg extensions twice a week while results were gathered and thus, it was determined that some effect that was derived from that is now "scientific fact."

That shit has ZERO bearing on guys who are spending 2 hours a day in the gym, 5-7 days a week, and have been training for 12 years with a massive hard on about clanging and banging the steel.  None.  Nada.  Nothing.

I've read studies where they "showed factually" that fasted cardio did not improve fat loss any better than cardio that was done after eating.  But I can get you a dozen competitors that will tell you when they did fasted cardio, they showed up leaner for their shows.  Not everything done in a lab in the name of nutrition or training REALLY is science.  It's just not.  The law of individuality is too great and wide, and due to genetic potential or genetic shortcomings, there is no way to accurately predict with 100% certainty what a diet or training program will produce for every single person.

That last point is literally not debatable.

And lastly, for people who are obese, the reason why they end up gaining most of their weight back on "traditional diets" isn't because of the bullshit I've read from IIFYM proponents.  It's because they have spent time modifying the reward receptors with shitty food choices that indeed rewire the circuitry of the brain that's associated with dopamine.  Ok, we will science this shit out one more time since these people are big on linking studies.

Link -

Recent evidence now suggests that as with drug addiction, obesity with compulsive eating behaviors involves reward circuitry of the brain, particularly the circuitry involving dopaminergic neural substrates. Increasing amounts of data from human imaging studies, together with genetic analysis, have demonstrated that obese people and drug addicts tend to show altered expression of DA D2 receptors in specific brain areas, and that similar brain areas are activated by food-related and drug-related cues.

Do you think it's a good idea then, to take someone who is obese, or needs to get lean, and has an eating disorder, and still allow them to eat foods that caused the obesity in the first place?  Look, for those people it's not the same as the person who hasn't had a "cheat meal" in 3 months.  They can't eat a "slice of pizza".  They eat whole pizzas.  They literally need to spend a significant amount of time "getting clean" no different than a crack addict or an alcoholic.  Which means abstaining from those foods for a significant period of time in order to establish and cement healthy eating habits.  For those people, they don't know what portion control is.  Three oreos signals to the brain that they need to eat three bags of oreos.  Until those pathways are rewired, their ability to show restraint is going to be negligible.

My beef isn't with flexible dieting per say.  It's with people who spread such horrible information that there's no difference in oreos and broccoli.  If you could get contest shredded eating oreos do you not think that 100% of the people would do that, rather than suffer and feel like zombies for months on end all the while eating tuna and lettuce?

"Hey, I can name you these 5 guys that use IIFYM that get shredded."

Awesome.  I love the 5 guys that are 175-180 pounds in contest shape that are naturally lean with hell-fire metabolisms as examples.  This is awesome.  Tell me more, my friend.

What about that guy that can't even have a few packets of equal during the last month lest he totally screw up his conditioning?  Or the guy that can't eat carbs the week of the show for the same reason.  Or the guy that has to slam carbs just to fill out enough not to appear flat?  Or the guy that can't tolerate sweet potatoes or brown rice because they bloat him so bad?

It's just not as simple as macros.  Not at the competitive level of physique competition.  And just because one asshole ate ice cream all week and accounted for it, and won some show that consisted of 7 competitors that was held in a high school gymnasium, doesn't mean shit.

Bikini competitors weighing in on this are even worse.

I've known bikini competitors that were so genetically gifted that they were practically gym noobs and won nationally qualifying shows.  Two weeks later they are writing diet plans for people and spouting off about how they ate Taco Bell twice a week going into the show "so it does work".  Oh you also left out how your coach put you on T3, T4, clen, anavar, and arimidex for that show too.  But nevermind that.  It was the fucking Taco Bell.  That was the ticket.

Hey I have an idea.  Enter a division that requires you to have a significant level of muscle mass, and a very significant degree of extreme conditioning and get back with me on that Taco Bell and tell me how much more time you had to spend in the gym to reach THAT level.

Before someone says I'm flat out shitting on bikini competitors, I'm not.  Ok, I sort of am, but I do know of some bikini competitors that train hard, eat properly, don't espouse dumb shit, and work hard at being competitive in that division. The problem is, people don't want to hear from them.  They want to hear from the people who say "you can totally transform your body and not really change your current life style."

And that's bullshit.

Which leads me to my second major gripe/rant.

2.  The idea that dream physiques, elite level strength, or elite level performance can be attained easily.

This idea has come about due to the popularity of surge of competitors in new divisions that don't require the same amount of discipline, hard work, and suffering that other divisions do.  Even worse, those divisions have become so popular because it caters to mediocrity.

If you are getting judged on your physique, then how in the hell can that be possible when no one sees your leg development?

We have come to a point in the physique world where we put mediocrity on a pedestal, and reward what I see as averageness as something to be admired.

Someone showed me some guy on Instagram this past week with over a million followers, and I could barely tell the guy had ever picked up a weight.  The best way I could describe his physique is if you took an ironing board, and drew abs on it, then that's what we had.

And that's what young males now, apparently, "strive" for.

It's not eliteness.  It's not the unattainable.  It's the absolute average in regards to physical development.  I can find 20 guys in every gym in the world that look like that.  To me, it's like knowing there is the NFL out there, filled with elite players, playing inside a mostly empty stadium, while 70 thousand people are lining up to watch a bunch of overweight dads play flag football on the weekend.  Because hey, "I too can be a backyard flag football all star."

You know why so many young men identify with this?  Because they feel it is something they can strive for.  And because women apparently prefer that look over "grossness".

Well fuck your grossness.  Pushing the limits to me in regards to physical development was something that was always to be admired and revered.  Because it took extreme degrees of hard work, discipline, dieting, training, and desire.  The grossness was nothing more than the manifestation of those things.  In other words, the form that was created from going the extra mile that others were not willing to go.

And that's what really creates the chasm between these underwear boys and guys who are still cranking year after year in order to become more "gross".  It's an evolution of identity.  No different than Walter White went from a guy just needing a few hundred thousand dollars, to a guy that was obsessed by the feeling of power and control.

Can you imagine people celebrating a dude climbing the tallest hill in some wooded area of the backwoods of Georgia while totally ignoring the people climbing Everest and Makalu?

No one is on ESPN due to running the 100 meter dash in 22 seconds.  No.  It's Usain Bolt smashing records and killing his competition.  And his competition is fucking elite.

But the physique culture has done exactly that.  Push the easily attainable to the forefront so as to appeal to the masses.  Because while people love elite level athletes or competitors in other sports, the physique culture has grown into the opposite.  People loving the easily attainable.

Now, you can have a line out of the Arnold or Olympia expo of people waiting in line to get a pic of them with some dude that's 180 pounds with abs.  If that's not average I'm not sure what is.  And this is why "bodybuilding" has gone backwards in regards to popularity.

Even with all of that said, I personally don't care if that's what the masses want.  Let me repeat that lest someone miss that sentence.

If being 175 with abs, and a "beach body" physique is what you're after, then go for it.  Work hard for it, and be proud of it.  It's your life.  Do what makes you happy and gives you joy in regard to your training, eating, and lifestyle.  I honestly don't have an issue with this.  Different strokes for different folks, and people have to decide what really creams their Twinkie.

My main issue is, if someone is going to find themselves in that degree of notoriety, with possibly millions of followers, then they should at least be held responsible for the information they dole out in regards to training and nutrition.  No different than I am going to slam women who go get ass implants, then pretend they didn't, all the while telling other women they know how to build glutes.  Lying and being disingenuous, the last time I checked, is sort of the opposite of integrity.  But I guess that's not really that relevant anymore either.  Likes and followers are.

And here is where it all comes together.

People do want to look a certain way.  They want their dream body.  And they go out on social media and find people that have their "dream body" and hashtag shit like #physiquegoals related to these people.  Then because they have a desire to look like them, get lost in the delusion that this person somehow has the keys to the kingdom for them in regards to achieving that body.  They don't tell people they got ass implants, or that they take thyroid drugs or clenbuterol.  They say shit like "I eat pizza multiple times a week and you can too.  Stop believing you have to eat clean and be strict in order to achieve the body you want.  There's no difference in oreos and broccoli."

And people eat this shit up.  Pun intended.  Because it appeals to their belief that attaining something incredibly difficult can be done quite easily.  It appeals to the "softcore" masses.

And maybe it can be easily attainable, if you fall into that small percentage of people who had great parents that make it easy.  But for the other 99% it's going to take a lot of hard work, a great degree of suffering, and a lot more broccoli than fucking oreos.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Why I hate John Meadows

If I so desired, I could probably write a novel that would rival the likes of Moby Dick to describe all the reasons I despise and hate John Meadows.  However, I don't have that kind of time nor the inclination to do so because it would just mean more publicity for someone who has caused a great deal of grief and misery in my life.  What I will do instead, is continue to pray to whatever God will listen, and that John gets blown up by rockets one day.

With that said, I can give you a high level overview of why I hate John, and why you should as well.

1.  John is a former banker - Do I really need to write any more than that at this point?  I could probably end this right here but I will continue anyway.

2.  John is really short - Short people always have attitude problems.  John is no exception to this, as you will come to learn.

3.  John grows shitty lamb chops out from time to time - I have no idea why he does this, other than the fact that I bet he thinks he looks like Wolverine when he does it.  My guess is he enters a contest for ugliest human alive on a periodic basis.

4.  John was in Forbes - This is true.  He was.  They lavished over his success as a banker (puke) and then his successful transition from banker to snake oil salesman and professional rip off artist via his Mountain Dog website, training, etc.

5.  John got his IFBB pro card - True, it only took him 189 shows to finally find one where the competition was so weak they were forced to give him one, but it did happen.

This is just a small list, and not even the top 5.  I could go on about his diva personality to the degree that he has a personal driver that chauffeurs him everywhere.  How he fans his farts in people's faces randomly, and has a slave labor camp in Cambodia filled with old women and small children who work for pennies a day to make pancakes for him.  But those are somewhat sophomoric in nature compared to so many other things that makes him scum of the Earth.

To give you a better glimpse into the dark heart that is John Meadows, let me tell you what it was like being around him for the better part of everyday for over a week in Australia.

Each morning I would meet him down for breakfast.  John would go on and on about the quality of eggs there, and lament how shitty eggs were back in the states compared to there.  He bought me breakfast a total of zero times, and then spent the morning talking in third person and insulting me for no reason.

For example...

Me - "Good morning, John."

John - "Don't say "good morning to John Meadows.  You say "greetings, sire!"

Me - "I'm not saying that."

John - "Fuck you, Paul.  I'm John Meadows.  The Mountain Dog.  Sit at that table over there until you can learn some respect."

Me - ".............................."

John - "These eggs are delicious.  Pay for my breakfast, bitch."

These were my general morning conversations with John...on a good day.  On a bad day, he'd try to hold me down with his short little snausage fingers and try to force me to smell his farts.  Luckily, I am stronger than John so I would break free and ask him what his fucking problem was.

I might be smiling here but on the inside I was dying

"My problem?  You're asking John Meadows what his problem is?  You don't ever ask the Mountain Dog what his problem is.  Pay for my breakfast, bitch."

Eventually, John left to go back to the states, thank God.  And the reign of terror finally came to an end.

After more than a year of serious therapy and counseling, I was able to move past that week of trauma and abuse and resumed a somewhat normal life.

Until lately, however.

John hit me up a few weeks ago, and I immediately took my lithium so as to make it through the conversation without a panic attack.

"Send John Meadows your address." he told me.

"John, my therapist said that probably isn't a good idea."

"The Mountain Dog has something to send you.  Now pay for my breakfast, bitch."

"John, I'm in Kansas City.  You're in Columbus.  I can't pay for your breakfast."

"Are you talking shit to The Mountain Dog right now?"

"No John, here, let me send you my address.  What are you sending me?"

"Some food bars."

I had no idea what a food bar was.  To me, that sounds like a place where fat people go to socialize.

A few days after this, I saw a post from Shelby Starnes where he said he had received said food bars and was highly addicted to them.  That he couldn't stop eating them.

At first I thought this was Shelby being dramatic.  However he's not one for dramatics so I easily came to the conclusion that John was sending me some form of a highly addictive substance.  Something that could easily ruin my life and have me doing unspeakable acts in piss filled alleys in order to get more these "food bars".

A few days later, a got a package that contained two boxes.  On the top of each one was a picture of John that looked like something out of a comic book.  Seeing John's image immediately caused both an anxiety attack and sudden nausea and I almost threw up all over the place.  But I practiced my deep breathing techniques until it passed, and then peeled the pictures off of the boxes so I could actually look at them long enough to open one.

Inside was what looked like a normal candy bar.

"Interesting" I thought.

I looked on the back and checked out the macros, and ingredients.  I looked up and down the contents of this "food bar" but did not see "crack cocaine" or "methamphetamines" listed anywhere.

I cracked this thing open, and took a bite.

I was not prepared for that.

Unlike most protein bars on the market, this thing really was delicious.  The texture was amazing.  And it was really moist.  Because as the name implies, it is made with real food.  So it has to be stored in the fridge.  A place as cold as John's black heart.

And also unlike the bars you normally get, that feel like you're eating a slab of pasty goo, these were soft.  Just like John's glutes in all those contests he took second place at.

What really hit me when I looked on the back, were the macros.  The first place my mind went was that was a perfect food about an hour before training.  Enough protein to initiate muscle protein synthesis,  just enough carbs as not to cause a blood sugar drop, and a solid amount of fats to slow down the digestion of them.


Combined with Muscle Intrusion from True Nutrition, this would be ideal in every way for my pre and peri workout stack.  I mean perfect.

I took a valium to relax my nerves and called John to let him know what a great product this was.

"John Meadows knows what a great product it is, bitch.  You think the Mountain Dog would make anything other than great product?" he told me.

I reiterated my thoughts about it being ideal for about an hour before training.

"You don't think I don't know that?  John Meadows knows all.  Buy my breakfast, bitch."

I went to respond to this however he abruptly hung up on me.  Which was fine as I could feel another anxiety attack coming on.

I instituted the food bar into my nutrition plan and along with the Muscle Intrusion I felt fantastic during training.  A really solid source of energy and I didn't feel overly full from eating it an hour out.  No stomach issues at all like a lot of protein bars gave me.

My main issue with them was that they were overly delicious.  And I wanted to eat many of them at a time.  Much like Shelby had talked about.  They really are that good.

If you follow up your training with some Rice Chex, almond milk, and 40 grams of whey protein you've literally got the perfect pre-peri-post workout food sources in place.

You can chalk up my addiction to these as another reason that I hate John Meadows.  Anyone who makes a protein bar taste this good must be an asshole.  After all, the market was already saturated with shitty tasting protein bars, so what was the purpose in making one that actually tasted great and was made with real food ingredients?

Seems pointless to me, but I will keep eating them until my prayers are answered and John gets blown up by military rockets.

If you're interested in adding these to your pre and peri workout habits, you can have a go at them in the linkage below.....

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Beginner lessons - Early mistakes to avoid

Chasing poundage rather than technique -

As a novice, it can be hard not to get caught up in the early wild ride that is adding poundage very easy every week, or every few weeks.  However this often comes at the expense of maintaining or promoting proper movement execution.

Over time, these motor patterns of said lifter becomes established and these bad habits become hard to break later when attempts at maximal poundages are performed.

And while progressive overload should be the cornerstone of the novice and intermediate lifter, it shouldn't be adhered to "at any cost".

Believing a certain routine will make you look a certain way -

I remember when I was young, a few years into training, and I really thought that following a certain pros routine would make me "look like them".

I see this subtly still in the minds of young lifters or guys with little experience.  You know how?  With these phrases...

"well it works for him."

This is said by fanboys of guys they follow/idolize/want to be like...and they need to believe that because something works for their idol, that it will work for them as well.

"I'm using so n so's routine.  And he's jacked."

So n so didn't use THAT routine to get jacked, if he's an advanced guy.  He arrived at that destination via other means.  And those other means would probably serve you better than following his 6 day a week split routine that he worked up to doing over the course of the last decade.

Another example of this is any time some Hollywood actor gets in decent enough shape for a role to "stand out" on film.  Without fail, magazines and websites will report on his "routine", which no one can know for certain whether it was or not.  But this doesn't stop guys from believing that if they follow said routine they will look like that within a few months.

Dwayne didn't always look like this.  For the longest time he looked like....(see below)

From guys I've spoken with that are in the know about this, most of these guys run a cycle, train multiple times a day, have two or three guys helping them with their training and nutrition.  And they have millions of dollars in the bank to live comfortably off of in order to do nothing but train, eat, and "supplement" everyday in order to get ready for a role.  Do you have that kind of time and money?  Because if not, the shitty routine you are reading in that magazine where he trained "four days a week, doing 50 push ups and some swiss ball ab work" isn't going to do a god damn thing for you.

I mean how many times have we seen The Rock's workout and diet in a magazine at this point?  I wonder how many guys have done both of those in order to "look like the Rock?"

Nevermind that he's been training for over 20 years now.  Totally lost on them because apparently he just got jacked like, this year.

Newflash.  If you want to be jacked like Dwayne Johnson, be prepared to put in a couple of decades of hard work, take some anabolics, and go through phases where you were chubby, then lean, then chubby, then lean again.  None of this happens in a few months, or even a few years.  And no routine is going to make you "look like someone".  Last time I checked, your dad banged your mom and created you.  And what someone else does or did won't always help you.

...well, he looked like this.  Lots of years in between.

Part of the process of fulfilling your genetic potential is going through the process of becoming advanced.  It's actually not until you get closer to your genetic ceiling that you've made enough mistakes and tried enough shit to know what the hell really works for you.

So be prepared to do a lot of the wrong shit.  Just know that following a guys routine that has been training for two decades isn't going to make you look like him any time soon.

Chronic routine changing -

This is sort of an extension to the last point.

But even more so, I can't figure out what is going through the mind of people when I read shit like this.

"I just used X routine and had great results.  So now I'm going to try Y routine."


So you're using a program that is working well, and making some sweet ass gains, and you're going to change it because.....I literally have no snappy comeback to this.


I don't know, I'm at a loss.  But I read this over and over again.  And it makes zero sense to me at all.

Listen, if you are making progress you ride that shit out until it's deader than hell.  And you know what?  You won't even know that for months and months and months.  And you know what else?  Even then, you don't have to overhaul everything in order to keep moving forward.  In fact, that's often the worst thing you can do.  You make a change here, then see what happens.  If you progress again, that's all you do.  Until progress is no longer forthcoming.

Then you repeat that.  Make a small change.  Better?  Worse?  Nothing?

If something works, don't make a change until it no longer does for quite some time.  And then, make minor changes.  It could literally be something as slight as taking your reps from 5 to 12.  Or switching one movement out for another.

Neglecting back work -

This is another area I see with most novice guys.  And a lot of the novice routines that get used by so many of them.

Your back is basically the foundation for everything you do along with your trunk and hips.  So addressing it with a few sets of shitty rows once a week is just not going to be enough.

I will say this, in my early years I did not make this particular mistake.  I have no idea if I had genetics for a big back, but I honestly believe all the years I spent early on doing chins for hours on end, and doing a metric fuck ton of various rows played a part in it.

Yet, do you know how many guys I know can't do a strict set of 10 with bodyweight only even after several years of supposed, "serious training?"

How serious are you training if you can't do 10 chin ups/pull ups after YEARS of being in the gym?

Pulling your bodyweight up is one of the most basic strength building movements you can do.  And you're too weak or too fat to do a strict set of ten....after YEARS of training?

Either you neglected your back work, and ignored hard work, or you got into one of those stupid ass "perma bulk" modes and also neglected hard back work.  Now you're too heavy to pull your fat ass up for a set of 10 on one of the most simplistic and basic movements you should be doing.

Someone will probably get mad about that, but generally when someone makes you mad with something they say, it should cause a bit of self reflection.  I mean, in this particular case it should.  If someone tells you  you're a piece of shit....well, it's possible that should cause some self reflection too, depending on the source.

Either way, so many people spend too much time neglecting SERIOUS back work early in their training, because it's hard, and it's not fancy.  Make it fancy.  It will literally carry over to everything else you do.

Spot reduction -

This really is still talked about!  I swear to God it is.  I still see it all the time.

You cannot do an exercise to "get more definition in my arms."

"Get my legs more toned."

"Get my pecs leaner."

All of these things require two things -

1.  A reduction in bodyfat.
2.  An increase in muscle mass in those areas.

I will say this, the more developed an area gets, the less fat it does tend to carry around it.  This is not "spot reduction" however.  When I read the term "spot reduction" it generally means the person thinks doing a movement for that area strips fat off of it.

So if you hate that a particular bodypart tends to carry more fat in it, you can end up carrying less fat around that area IF that area becomes VERY developed (I've seen this not only in myself but lots of others).  But that takes time, and it still takes a reduction in overall bodyfat, and an increase in muscle mass.  Doing movements for that area don't make it leaner because you're working it.

But basically what your focus should be, right from the beginning is decreasing bodyfat, and simply increasing muscle mass overall.  You're going to have an area on your body that ultimately holds on to fat the hardest, and will always be the last place you lose it.  Even if that area becomes more developed it's still probably going to be your "problem area".  Doing a zillion sets of ab work isn't going to get you a six pack if you're rocking 20% bodyfat.

Not building balance/creating muscular gaps -

Talk to any therapist or psychiatrist in the world and they will all tell you that as adults, most of who we are gets shapen, or misshapen, in our most impressionable years when we are young.  The foundation for how we think, believe, behave, and act all starts getting built from the time we are very young.  And since it is the foundation, it stays with us for the rest of our lives unless one or two things happen...

1.  Experience teaches us otherwise, i.e. we have a paradigm shift due to something happening that changes us.

2.  Extensive therapy that allows us to process the fragmented parts of trauma that happen to us in our youth.

Now apply both of those things to what you are building as a novice, and ask yourself if you are building a solid foundation with a very balanced training and eating program.

One of my biggest issues with most beginner programs is that they lack total body development, and balance.  It's usually the same template.

Three days a week - Squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, and rowing.  There might be one or two things in there outside of that but that's about it.

Does this look like balance to you?  Because it doesn't to me.

"Well a beginner doesn't need all those other things."

What other things?  Things that help to create stability at every area of the kinetic chain?  Things that make sure hamstring and quadriceps strength are in balance?  Things that make sure one side of the body doesn't become dominant because unilateral work was excluded?

I firmly believe that a lot of the injuries you end up with down the road are related to some of the things that get imprinted on you in your early stages of training.  You'll gravitate towards movements you love, neglecting the ones you hate, and this becomes a cornerstone of future training habits.

A beginner has the same muscles when he or she starts training, as they will have twenty years later.  So why do so many beginner templates neglect these areas when doing so means the beginner becomes intermediate or advanced, is then left in "catch up" mode in regards to developing them?  Why can't a beginner use a leg curl, or do work for their brachialis?

"Because they don't need all that extra fluff.  All the major muscle groups get hit with the big movements...blah blah blah"

Beginners need to work on complete development so that less energy needs to be devoted to specialization later.  This doesn't mean the beginner or intermediate specializes, it just means they don't neglect things because a few big movements "hit the total body".

Down the line, he or she will most likely end up with an injury due to improper mechanics, or because something has been left weak, or underdeveloped.

This is what creating a muscular gap is.  When a secondary or tertiary mover in a lift doesn't get adequate attention and is neglected for years on end.  By addressing them early in training, there's less of a chance of dealing with "trauma" later.

Think of it as good muscle parenting.  Neglecting certain muscles is like leaving your toddler alone all day to figure out how to cook because they are hungry.  It just doesn't make a lot of sense.

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